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Mythological Beginnings

The Chinese claim a history of 5000 years, but early "records" are of a mythological and legendary nature. The very existence of the Xia Dynasty, documented in early Chinese histories as the first Chinese dynasty, still awaits archaeological verification.

Chinese HistoryAccording to legend, the Xia Dynasty was preceded by three sovereigns and five emperors. The first of the sovereigns, Fuxi, is usually depicted alongside his wife and sister, the goodness of Nugua. The two are human from the waist up, but have the tails of dragons. Nugua is credited with having fashioned human beings from clay and have created the institution of marriage, while Fuxi bestowed the gifts of hunting, fishing and animal husbandry.

The Ox-headed Shennong, another of the three sovereigns, bestowed agriculture and knowlegede of medical properties of plants of Chinese. The five emperors (like the three sovereigns) are also credited with having founded certain key elements of Chinese traditional cultural traditions. For example, the first of them, Huang Di, is said to have brought the agricultural calendar, boasts, amour and pottery to the Chinese people. A later emperor, Shun, devised the writing brush. Dynastic rule commenced when the same Shun abdicated in favour of Yu, the first emperor of Xia.

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